World Literature

Confronting Dostoevsky's Demons: Anarchism and the Specter by Dostoyevsky, Fyodor; Goodwin, James; Bakunin, Mikhail

By Dostoyevsky, Fyodor; Goodwin, James; Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksandrovich

Even if criticized at one time for its hugely tendentious spirit, Dostoevsky’s Demons (1871-1872) has confirmed to be a singular of serious polemical power. initially encouraged through a minor conspiratorial episode of the overdue 1860s, good after Dostoevsky’s demise (1881) the paintings endured to earn either acclaim and contempt for its scathing sketch of revolutionists pushed by way of damaging, anarchic goals. The textual content of Demons assumed new that means in Russian literary tradition following the Bolshevik triumph of 1917, whilst the reestablishment and growth of centralized kingdom energy necessarily revived curiosity within the radical populist traits of Russia’s previous, specifically the anarchist considered Dostoevsky’s mythical modern, Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876).
Confronting Dostoevsky’s ‘Demons’ is the 1st ebook to discover the lifetime of Dostoevsky’s novel in mild of disputes and controversies over Bakunin’s troubling legacy in Russia. opposite to the normal view, which assumes the obsolescence of Demons all through a lot of the Communist interval (1917-1991), this ebook demonstrates that the aptitude resurgence of Bakuninist concept truly inspired reassessments of Dostoevsky’s novel. by way of exploring the various rules and significant recommendations that influenced opposing interpretations of the unconventional in post-revolutionary Russia, Confronting Dostoevsky’s ‘Demons’ finds how the aptitude resurrection of Bakunin’s anti-authoritarian ethos fostered the go back of a politically reactionary novel to the canon of Russian classics

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Dostoevsky’s use of factual detail from the trial of suspected “Nechaevists” was so obvious, in fact, that it became a traditional object of censure immediately upon the novel’s publication. In February–March 1873, just months after the final installment of Demons, Dostoevsky’s contemporaries Nikolai Mikhailovsky and Petr Tkachev both criticized the author for combining accurate details from the real-life Nechaev affair with a story about fantastic characters. 14 According to Tkachev, who was originally implicated in the Nechaev affair and knew it well, Dostoevsky’s unsuccessful attempt “to rewrite the trial record” demonstrated the impossibility of fulfilling “tendentious” and “artistic” aims simultaneously.

1: 8). The name of Herzen carries meaning throughout the rest of the novel, as well. 7: 313). As a possible source of radical ideas and activity in the narrator’s town, however, Herzen and his writings prove to be too innocuous. 8: 303). 6: 283). 9: 328). 9: 330–331). 2: 395), both originate in ideas significantly more incendiary than those of Herzen. ” 25 activists cited in the text belong essentially to an earlier period or, like Herzen himself, are no longer alive. There appears to be little or no explicit textual evidence that Dostoevsky aimed his critique at any specific revolutionist other than Nechaev.

Recalling Bakunin’s impact, a number of veteran populists in Russia paid homage to Bakunin’s magnetic personality. ”22 In 1912, Bakunin’s right-hand man from 1872 to 1876, Mikhail Sazhin, recalled the “great imprint” which his first meeting with Bakunin left on his life. 23 Future Social Democrat Pavel Aksel’rod also made a “conscious and resolute turn” toward Bakunin’s views following his contact with Bakunin’s writings, smuggled by several followers into south Russia from Switzerland. ”24 Finally, in his widely read Memoirs of a Revolutionist, Petr Kropotkin called attention to Bakunin’s significance as a “moral personality” in the eyes of his descendants.

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